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Hungry is not safe: A mixed methods study to explore food insecurity in early care and education


The early care and education (ECE) environment has the potential to affect both children and their families. Food insecurity in ECE and its management may be an important influence. Objectives of this mixed methods study were to (1) elicit prominent themes relating to teacher experiences with food insecurity (in the classroom) through qualitative interviews; (2) translate interview themes into survey items and analyze survey data to explore generalizability of the qualitative findings; and (3) provide preliminary data on properties of a new tool to study the influence of food insecurity in the ECE setting. An exploratory sequential mixed methods design (QUAL → quant) was used. Twenty-eight interviews about teacher experiences with food insecurity were followed by 781 surveys to assess generalizability of interview findings. Qualitative themes highlighted that ECE teachers are concerned about children’s food insecurity in their classroom; ECE teachers have developed their own set of strategies to manage their concern; and teachers often struggle with what to do. Quantitative results demonstrated many teachers had the same concerns and used the strategies described in the interviews. Further, in exploratory analyses, ECE teachers with Food Insecurity scored significantly higher on all scales (e.g., Food Insecurity Concerns, Struggle with Addressing Food Security) in both adjusted and unadjusted analyses. ECE teachers with Food Acquisition Stress had higher scores on Strategies to Address Food Insecurity with Families in adjusted analyses. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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